Barnes and Noble Closing? Say It Ain’t So!

Once again, I found articles posted on Facebook about Barnes & Noble closing its doors – this time for good. As you can imagine, with B&N being one of the last standing brick and mortar bookstore chains in the U.S., its fate is important to those of us in the industry – and it should be important to you as an author, too. Why? Because the fact is, avid readers love bookstores, having your book on the shelf of a mainstream bookstore is a huge boost in credibility to you as an author, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love to walk into a bookstore and sniff ink on freshly printed books?

The fact is, the death of Barnes & Noble would be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, maybe, just maybe, with the megastore gone, small indie bookstores will have room to grow and thrive. A curse because in the interim of the possibility of indie stores making a comeback, those of us who enjoy browsing bookstore shelves and sniffing ink will have to settle for digitally sniffing Amazon in our search for the next book to devour. And that’s not quite as fun.

Either way, I figured as an expert in the publishing industry, I needed to do some digging… and here’s what I found:

First, the original article featured on Focus Magazine‘s website circulating social media is not written by an expert who did his research. It’s mere hype, possibly to get more love from Google and a boost in ratings for the blog. In less than 10 minutes of “digging” on the internet, I found several articles and news reports dating back to 2011 about the myth of B&N’s supposed “closing all its stores.” In fact, I didn’t even have to get past Page 1 of Google results to find this information.

Second, yes, Barnes & Noble has had plans since 2011 to phase out the traditional Nook reader, switch manufacturers for its Nook HD tablets to lessen production costs, and has been closing non-producing stores for the past few years. To the author’s credit of the article mentioned above, he did state B&N was closing 20 stores a year, which is true. In fact, according to this About.com report, the retail chain plans to close a total of 223 stores through the end of 2023. Yes, that’s a lot of stores. And what was not reported on that page is that B&N is opening approximately five stores each year in more profitable areas. Sad for those closing, but good for those of us who love books (despite the fact that I would still choose an indie bookstore any day over B&N…)

Third, the most recent report from ABC News on April 3, 2014 states while Barnes & Noble’s primary shareholder did in fact sell off most of their stock in the company and is in fact closing doors on non-profitable stores, the bookseller has actually surprised investors by “cutting losses and costs at a faster pace than expected.” The report also mentions that investors seem to be following Liberty Media’s lead in selling stock, so maybe the primary investor knows something the rest of the world does not. Only time will tell.

And finally, kudos to one of my Kindle in 30 Challenge members, Deborah Cook, for digging up this article posted on May 15, 2014 (in other words, recent news) from TheAlternativePress.com which is a response from Barnes & Noble’s CEO, Michael P. Huseby. He states, “Here’s the kicker that no Henny Penny wants to hear.  People are actually coming back to bookstores more often than they have in years.  Improving bookstores sales trends during fiscal 2014 indicate that customers are reigniting their love affair with physical books.  This trend supports industry reports that suggest eBook growth has moderated and was essentially flat in 2013.”

So here’s the issue… Don’t believe everything posted on the internet. Don’t believe people who post hype on their sites hoping for hundreds of comments to increase their Google ranking. D0 believe the real reports and do some digging yourself.

Only the future can tell how long Barnes & Noble will be here for us to enjoy. And until we hear some reports with clear, un-hyped facts, I’m going to enjoy visiting my local B&N and sniffing the ink. See you in the Bargain Books aisle!
photo credit: Mike Mozart via photopin (license)

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  • Ponn Sabra
    May 31, 2014

    Thanks for this insightful article Kristen. Even though we’re avid kindle publishers, my family and I can never dismiss our love and preference for paperbacks, hard books and our now-not-so-local-but-worth-the-drive Barnes and Noble.

    Kudos to Deborah for going the extra mile to uncover the truth!
    Ponn Sabra recently posted…Making a Profession from Your Passion and PurposeMy Profile

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  • Marya Miller
    May 31, 2014

    As a former newspaper general manager and magazine editor, I absolutely hate the modern penchant for shallow and sloppy research. Thank you for digging deeper, Kristen: It’s heartening to know that bookstores in fact are not dying.

    And thanks for reminding people to dig deeper themselves, when conducting research.
    Marya Miller recently posted…Silent NightMy Profile

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  • Frances Macaulay Forde
    May 21, 2014

    I read the original article a few days ago and believed it! Although I live in Australia and at the moment, the ‘closure’ doesn’t effect me, thank you so much for putting us all straight! I am normally skeptical about things but this fooled me. Thanks Kristen.
    Frances Macaulay Forde recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Catch!My Profile

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  • Rachel R.
    May 18, 2014

    The most appropriate response to the whole scenario, in my mind? Go out and support the bookstore! Regardless of whether or not it’s true that B&N is shutting down altogether, it’s a good reminder that there’s more than just Amazon. 🙂

    (Some of my husband’s and my best traditions revolve around the bookstore. Although our mass bookseller of choice is BAM.)
    Rachel R. recently posted…16 Ways to Mark a Countdown (The Counting of the Omer)My Profile

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  • linda
    May 18, 2014

    Kristen, thank you so much for sharing and going the extra mile to keep us informed. I love Barnes n Noble.

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  • John Loty
    May 17, 2014

    Thanks for sharing the result and experience of your research.
    In particular I picked up on “reports with clear, un-hyped facts”…because it seems that when it comes to the popular mass media there is not much in the way of ‘clear, un-hyped facts’.

    I watched an interview of a very experienced Politzer prize winning journalist US Journalist
    Chris Hedges) recently. He was asked to explain or give his views as to why there was so much of the “official narrative” (what I think could just as easily be called -‘hyped facts) in the US mass media and his answer rang true – although a sad fact. It was that most journalist are career folk — who have discovered that challenging the official narrative is career limiting.

    Isn’t that sad?

    I mean thousands of people die and who knows how many millions of US taxpayer’s dollars goes up in smoke in strange places because people are more worried about their careers that challenging the hyped facts (official narrative) that we get fed every day.

    Yes, as you say, we all need to do a bit more digging to find out what is going on rather than accept what is dished out to us day in and day out.
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  • Betty Horn
    May 17, 2014

    It all goes back to what I learned at my mother’s knee. Don’t believe everything you read. Do some research. Find out for yourself. Or as was said in The X-Files, “The truth is out there.” Sorry, had to say it… Anyway, I get disturbed at those who believe everything that comes down the internet pipeline, including myself. I am even further bothered by those who choose to perpetuate those things. It only adds to an already confusing world.
    So I, too, will gladly be perusing books at said bargain aisles, hoping to run into you (albeit not literally!).

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  • Lynn Mosher
    May 17, 2014

    No, no, no! Say it ain’t so!!!
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